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Grove, Rupert Howard (1906–1982)

by Joan Mansfield

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Rupert Howard Grove (1906-1982), solicitor and Methodist (Uniting Church) layman, was born on 27 March 1906 at Dulwich Hill, Sydney, son of Victorian-born Howard Thomas Grove, architect, and his Sydney-born wife Aphra Marian, née McCoy. Educated at North Sydney Boys’ High School, Rupert graduated from the University of Sydney (LL B, 1928). He was admitted as a solicitor on 9 May 1929 and that year became a partner in the busy city law firm of McCoy, Grove & Atkinson. On 17 October 1935 he married Ina Margaret Hulme at the Methodist Church, Gordon.

A member of that church for more than forty years, Grove served as a local preacher and lay leader. As a young man he was prominent in Christian Endeavour and in the local branch of the highly popular Order of Knights, in which he became a knight grand commander. Youth leadership took him to circuit quarterly meetings, thence to the New South Wales Conference (1936-77) and the General Conference (1947-77) of the Methodist Church of Australasia. At conference level he bore a heavy load of committee work, spread over a broad range of responsibilities but unified by three principal concerns: sound governance of the church at all its levels; its mission to evangelise and to strengthen its influence in the community; and church union, which he believed would create a renewed and influential church.

In the progression towards the union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Australia, Grove made a decisive impact. The Methodist General Conference of 1954 was on the point of voting to join only with the Congregationalists, negotiations with the Presbyterians having stalled. Grove moved an amendment that action be deferred pending further approaches to the Presbyterians. His strategy was successful and he was involved in the continued negotiations as a member of the Methodist General Conference committee on church union and as the only Methodist lay representative on the Joint Commission on Church Union and the Joint Constitution Commission. The Uniting Church in Australia came into existence in 1977.

Concern for the Church’s mission was expressed in Grove’s membership (from 1936) of the Department of Home Missions in the Methodist Church and his chairmanship of the board of the United Church in North Australia (1972-77) and of the Uniting Church’s Commission for National Mission (1977-82). He was a member of the Newington College council for forty-one years. Colleagues emphasised Grove’s ability to identify and clarify issues and hasten business. Clear and authoritative in reasoning, he was noted in debate for his vigorous, emphatic, even passionate, delivery, tempered by charity, understanding and a dry humour. He was generous in sharing his legal knowledge. A man of great strength of character, he was seen as unspoiled, modest and humble. Survived by his wife and one of their two daughters, he died on 8 August 1982 at his Killara home and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • A. H. Wood, `Not Lost but Gone Before’ (1987)
  • Methodist Church of Australasia, Minutes of the General Conference, 1954, 1957
  • Uniting Church in Australia (New South Wales Synod), Year Book, 1981, p 15, 1983, p 6
  • Uniting Church in Australia, Minutes of the Third Assembly, 1982
  • J. S. Udy, Church Union in Australia (MA thesis, University of Sydney, 1985)
  • Church records (Uniting Church archives, North Parramatta, Sydney).

Citation details

Joan Mansfield, 'Grove, Rupert Howard (1906–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/grove-rupert-howard-12572/text22637, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 18 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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